Kyrgyz Cuisine

Kyrgyz cuisine reflects the lifestyle and traditions of the freedom-loving nomadic people. It is based on simple, high-calorie and nutritious meals.

You can try national delicacies during a tourist trip to the Central Asian country. The food is also easy to prepare yourself based on traditional recipes.

The main traditions of Kyrgyz cuisine

A century ago, the Kyrgyz led a nomadic lifestyle. However, as a result of urbanization, their way of life has changed. The influence of other cultures was reflected in the cuisine of the Kyrgyz, which incorporated Uzbek, Dungan, and Chinese features. The original Kyrgyz dishes are now cooked in the countryside, observing centuries-old traditions.

The Kyrgyz people are famous for their hospitality. Here they believe that the guest is grace in the house (“kontaku go kut bar”). The main treat during festive events in Kyrgyzstan is pilaf (paloo).

For guests, a ram is slaughtered, they are served with noodle soup, and kumis is poured. No holiday is complete without pieces of dough fried in lamb lard.

At the festive table (dastarkhan), the best pieces of meat are put to dear guests. When serving lamb, the most honorable participant of the holiday cuts the animal’s head and distributes food to those present.

If treated with horse meat, the best people get the sacrum and ribs. After meat products and chuchuk sausages, beshbarmak (crumbled boiled lamb with noodles) is placed on the table. It is customary to eat this dish with your hands, but modern Kyrgyz use spoons and forks. A small flat cake is always included with food.

By tradition, hearty food is consumed in the evening hours, serving a lot of greens to it. Any meal begins and ends with a ceremonial tea party.

The Kyrgyz drink sweet tea, considering it a source of strength and energy. Nuts, pastries and sweets are offered with the drink. Alcoholic drinks are rarely consumed at the table.

The people have preserved the tradition of preparing ritual dishes. Soumelok (porridge made from sprouted wheat) is made for the holiday of the spring equinox. Lush donuts are prepared in large quantities for any event.

Charitable dinners are traditionally held after recovery from a serious illness. On this occasion, cakes are baked and a ram is slaughtered, distributing refreshments to the guests.

Distinctive features

Having similarities with the cuisines of neighboring eastern countries (especially Kazakhstan), the menu of the residents of Kyrgyzstan still has its own characteristics. For centuries, the people roamed, and did not engage in agriculture. Because of this, the basis of the national food is meat and livestock products (milk, butter, dairy products).

Most of the dishes of Kazakh and Kyrgyz cuisine are prepared according to the same recipe.

However, the diet of the residents of Kyrgyzstan has its own interesting features:

  • the use of a large amount of boiled meat, offal;
  • rich soups, broths;
  • the base of the diet is flat cakes, koumiss, ayran;
  • a limited amount of vegetables and fruits (especially in the cuisine of the northern regions of the country);
  • cooking dishes based on lamb, beef and dough – hashan, samsa;
  • any meal is accompanied by tea from bowls, to which nan cakes are served;
  • seasonality of the diet: in summer it is dominated by vegetable products, in winter – meat;
  • adding spices and herbs to food that improve taste and stimulate digestion;
  • an abundance of flour products – cakes, pancakes, pancakes.

A Kyrgyz dish that is not found among other peoples is called kemech. These are coin-sized tortillas baked in ash. They are placed in warm milk, flavored with suzma (salted analogue of cottage cheese) and butter.

History of the development of the cuisine of Kyrgyzstan

The Kirghiz are one of the most ancient peoples of Central Asia, which has been known since the 3rd century. BC. The eating habits of the representatives of the ancient nomad culture were formed over several centuries.

People needed a lot of strength to move through the mountainous terrain, graze livestock and repel the attacks of enemies. Energy was provided by simple and high-calorie foods – meat, milk, millet and barley.

The ancestors of the modern Kyrgyz were of a mixed type of economy. The inhabitants of the valleys were engaged in cattle breeding, agriculture, handicrafts. In mountainous regions, shepherds followed the herds of animals. Their diet consisted of fatty lamb with spices and unleavened cakes.

The traditional Kyrgyz cuisine is hearty, balanced and as healthy as possible. The dishes are easy to prepare and the ingredients are available all year round. The nomadic people could not afford too much, but in the yurts there were always products for long-term storage.

The inhabitants of the northern and southern parts of the country have their own eating habits. This is due to the territorial disunity and proximity of other peoples.

In the north, beshbarmak is offered on holidays, and in the south – pilaf. Black tea is drunk in the northern regions, with the addition of milk. In the south, they adhere to Uzbek traditions. Here they prefer green varieties of the drink, they drink it without milk.

They love and drink tea in Kyrgyzstan, prepared according to different recipes, as in all eastern countries.

Cooking methods

The nomadic people have always strived to preserve the freshness of food for a long time. The meat was dried or pounded and then fried in fat. Other methods of processing products that have been used by the Kyrgyz for many centuries are boiling, stewing, and stewing.

The food was cooked in leather and wood utensils. Ceramic and metal kitchen products were brought from the Fergana Valley and Kashgaria. Food and tea were kept in leather bags. For kumis, they used clay jugs (mesh) and camel skin trunks.

Wooden dishes (cups, ladles, spoons, buckets, tureens and much more) were made by Kyrgyz craftsmen since the 19th century. Products were treated with smoke from a smokehouse or dyed. The sturdy leather and wood cases were handy during frequent travel.

Popular Products

The diet of ordinary Kirghiz has always been meager, but at the same time they tried to preserve the natural taste of the finished food. The best meat products were available only to wealthy people.

With the development of agriculture and the emergence of a sedentary lifestyle, honey and poultry entered the menu. Rice, barley, peas, millet, and dzhugara were popular among cereals.

Sunflower oil, vinegar, and fermented milk drinks were used as dressings for dishes in the Kyrgyz national cuisine. There are many vegetables in the modern menu of the people, among which are pumpkin, onions, tomatoes, dzhusay, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and potatoes.

Meat

For many centuries, horse meat was the main thing in the diet of the Kyrgyz people, which was replaced by mutton. The menu also includes beef, roe deer and poultry. The Kyrgyz do not eat pork for religious reasons.

Meat products are boiled, less often stewed or baked on coals. On their basis, sausage is made, food is prepared with cereals, vegetables. The meat is ground for samsa, beshbarmak and other dough products.

Milk and dairy products

The Kyrgyz use mare’s and cow’s milk not only in pure form.

On the basis of this nutritious product, they prepare fermented milk dishes and drinks:

  • kumis – a national drink made from mare’s milk;
  • ayran – fermented milk of cows;
  • kurut – fermented milk cheese made from dried suzma;
  • kaymak – heavy cream.

The Kyrgyz national drink is koumiss.

Flour products

Dough products occupy an important place in the national cuisine. The bread is baked in tandoor or rectangular ovens.

Its varieties:

  • bread – tandoor flatbread;
  • kinkga – deep-fried figurine dough;
  • gokai – puff pastry cakes;
  • kemech – charcoal bread;
  • komoch-nan – bread cooked on an open window;
  • boorsok – pieces of rolled dough fried in oil.

The dough is used to make noodles for meat treats kulchetai, the basis for oromo rolls and manti. Long narrow kesme noodles are added to the first and second courses.

Sweet pastries

At the festive and everyday table of the Kirghiz there are halva, sherbet, chak-chak and other oriental sweets.

Housewives make baked goods:

  • Kuima-kant – cookies based on sweet sugar-egg mass;
  • shirin-alma – apples in jelly, pre-baked with sugar;
  • sesame-edging – a delicacy based on sesame and sugar;
  • kandolat – balls of sweet dough.

Pastries and pastries are combined with fermented milk products, for example, ayran, homemade cheeses.

Tea in Kyrgyzstan

The aromatic drink is drunk three times a day, before and after meals. In summer it refreshes, and in winter it warms and energizes. Sugar, milk or cream, salt are added to green or black tea. Bowls are used for serving.

In modern Kyrgyzstan, the samovar is used on major holidays. On weekdays, it is replaced by a porcelain teapot.

Atkanchay is prepared when you need to quickly recuperate. It is a thick mixture of tea, salt, butter, sour cream and milk.

National Kyrgyz dishes

Many dishes and drinks of the Kyrgyz are familiar to residents of the CIS countries. These are manty, lagman, pilaf, samsa, koumiss, ayran.

Less popular among foreigners, national dishes include:

  • beshbarmak – a strong broth based on minced meat with the addition of noodles;
  • kuyrdak – fatty fry of offal served with potatoes;
  • shorpo and ashlyanfu – meat soups;
  • goats – raw horse sausage;
  • kattama – flaky cakes with the addition of onions.

Marrow

A national nutritious delicacy is made from chopped horse meat on big holidays. To prepare the sausage, take horse tenderloin, intestines, salt, black pepper and garlic.

Minced meat is prepared from meat and spices and stuffed with an everted intestine. The semi-finished product is immersed in cold water and boiled for about 2.5 hours, making punctures in the area of ​​the resulting bubbles. The sausage is cooled, cut across with the shell and served with noodles and vegetables.

In autumn, chuchuk is prepared for long-term storage using the drying method. The seeds of wild garlic and cumin can be added to the sausage mince. In winter, the product is frozen.

There is no difference between dried and frozen chuchuk, because with prolonged exposure to the cold, the delicacy acquires the qualities of cold-dried sausages.

Interesting facts about Kyrgyz cuisine

The Kyrgyz know more than 1000 methods of cooking meat. There is practically no waste from the carcass. Brains, eyes, stomachs and other offal are used.

Foreign guests are surprised when they are served a lamb head for neat opening and extraction of the edible part (brains, eyes). You cannot refuse the treat.

It is believed that if the owner has tried the second eye with the guest, he wants to meet again and is waiting for a visit again. Lamb lungs marinated in a mixture of milk, spices, butter and salt are no less original for tourists.

On the shore of the salty lake Issyk-Kul, residents of the country catch and smoke peled, trout, herring. In the heat, prepare an analogue of okroshka ashlyanfu with the addition of vinegar.

The best that can be brought from the country is Kyrgyzstan brandy, honey, pistachios and walnuts. Walnut forests cover more than 600 thousand hectares in the Arslanbob river valley. According to legend, Alexander the Great brought nuts to his homeland from here, after which they were called walnuts.

The best recipes

The dishes of the Kyrgyz cuisine are especially tasty and juicy when cooked in a tandoor or on an open fire, as nomads once did. Professional chefs and housewives can make them using modern kitchen units, adhering to recipes and traditions.

Cold snacks

Salad Naryn

Boiled horse meat (100 g), onion (30 g) and radish (120 g) are cut into strips. Add salt, stir and garnish with parsley.

Naryn salad with horse meat and radish.

Issyk-Kul salad

One serving requires grated cheese (75 g), diced egg (½ pcs.) And boiled chicken fillet (25 g). The components are mixed, half of the chopped clove of garlic is added. Season with sour cream (15 g), garnish with parsley.

Hot snack

Thirsty

The dish is on the menu of many national cafes. This is the liver of a poultry (chicken, duck, turkey) baked in ceramic molds. To prepare a snack, you need a liver (250 g), grated cheese (50 g), an onion, sour cream (4 tablespoons) and vegetable oil for frying.

The washed and chopped offal is fried in a pan. After 3-5 minutes, add the chopped onion and add salt. Keep on medium heat for another 3 minutes.

The semi-finished product is laid out in portioned molds or pots. Sour cream and cheese are added. Bake in an oven preheated to 180⁰C for 10 minutes. Served with herbs.

Susamyr is a tender and juicy chicken liver.

Chuiskaya

A hearty and nutritious lamb-based snack. Dice a white radish (1.5 pcs.), Sweet peppers (3 pcs.), A tomato, chop 7 cloves of garlic.

Meat (300 g) is washed, cut into cubes and fried in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes. Add the onion cut into half rings and fry over medium heat until transparent, stirring occasionally.

Add the rest of the vegetables and stew for about 8 minutes. At the end, add garlic, vinegar (1 tbsp. L), season with salt and ground black pepper. Separately boil funchose (200 g) and combine with frying. The appetizer is served immediately after preparation.

Soups

Soup

The Kyrgyz have been making this soup for many centuries. Lamb is boiled for a long time, adding carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. For a saucepan with a volume of 5-7 liters, you will need 1 kg of meat on the bone, 4 onions, 2 tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers, 5 potatoes. From spices add cumin, paprika (2-5 g each) and salt to taste.

Shorpo – high-calorie soup with lamb.

Shurugan

In spring and summer, there is a light milk soup Shurugan on the table of the Kazakh people. For its preparation, 75 g of ghee is heated and diced onions (1-2 heads) are fried in it. Pour 2 liters of milk and boil. Before serving in bowls, crumbs are crumbled, poured with the resulting broth and churugan is served chilled.

Second courses

Pilaf

Pilaf with tenderloin and lamb liver can be served during lunch or dinner. It will take about 1.5 hours to cook. Cut into strips 0.5 kg of carrots and 3 onions in half rings. Quince (2 pcs.) Is cut into slices, and meat (0.5 kg) and liver (250 g) – into cubes.

Next, prepare zirba by frying chopped onions and adding lamb with carrots. After 5-7 minutes, the liver, chopped tomato (3 pcs.), Spices and spices (cumin, paprika, barberry, black pepper – to taste) are introduced. The products are covered with water and salted, leaving on low heat until cooked.

Wash with 1 kg of rice and spread it evenly over the zirba. After the water has completely evaporated, the rice is collected in a slide in the center of the cauldron, covered with a lid and simmered over low heat until the cereals are ready. Pilaf is served with fresh vegetables.

Pilaf with lamb for a family dinner.

Five fingers

Meat and flour dish beshbarmak is prepared in several stages. First, lamb bone broth (400 g) is cooked with the addition of parsley root and celery. 

Pieces of lamb pulp (600 g), salt and peppercorns are thrown into the strained liquid. 10 minutes before the meat is ready, add chopped carrots to the pan. The finished mutton is removed, cooled and cut into long, narrow strips.

Separately knead the dough from 1 egg, 1 tbsp. flour and 4 tbsp. l. water. Salt and leave for half an hour. Roll out a thin layer and cut the noodles, which are boiled in the broth remaining after boiling the lamb.

Boiled noodles and chopped meat pulp are served separately. The broth is poured into bowls. The dishes are decorated with parsley. It takes about 4 hours to prepare beshbarmak.

Beshbarmak is a traditional Kyrgyz meat dish.

Beverages

Ball

In Kyrgyzstan, a sweet drink called Bal is often prepared. Chopped ginger root, cinnamon and cloves (5 g each) are placed in boiling water (200 ml). Add a pinch of black pepper and half a bay leaf. After boiling, remove from heat and insist under a lid for 5-10 minutes. Add 25 g of honey, stir, filter. Drink hot.

Tea

To prepare tea in Kyrgyz style, you will need a freshly brewed tea drink (0.75 l), to which 2 g of salt is added beforehand. Cream is poured into bowls (5-10 ml each), tea and a little warm water are added. Baursaki is served with the drink – balls of yeast dough fried in fat.

Drinks and dishes of Kyrgyz cuisine will help feed a family or surprise guests. Simple and satisfying, they will satisfy hunger for a long time and restore strength.